Never trust Netflix “At A Glance” descriptions. I thought I had learned that, but I guess I didn’t. Netflix described JCVD thusly: “Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in this comic action film.” Because of this, I went in with expectations of seeing something similar to Shoot ‘Em Up, which I can’t recommend enough. This was reinforced before the film even started as the production company’s intro sequence and logo (which is normally a silhoutted boy pulling a daisy from the ground) featured Van Damme attempting to take a flower from a child and subsequently performing a roundhouse kick on him.
The opening sequence is an impressive single take of Van Damme beating the crap out of a couple platoons of soldiers. While the scene is full of awesome, its primary purpose is to provide contrast to Van Damme’s down-and-out persona. As the film unfolds, we learn in a non-linear manner that he’s losing his daughter in a custody battle, is short on cash, and has wound up as a key figure in a post office robbery.
The directorial techniques are a mixed bag in terms of success. The washed-up tone and washed-out colors of JCVD are similar to that of The Wrestler and add a gloominess. We are essentially presented with the first events of the film twice: once from outside of the post office and once from Van Damme’s view inside the post office. The second run through of the plot quickly becomes tiring though, as its pretty easy to figure out what has happened only a few minutes into it. Some of the more effective devices include a dramatic (and well-acted!) fourth-wall breaking monologue and a fake “rewound” ending. Not what I was expecting going in, but there’s some interesting stuff here nonetheless.
Arbitrary song of the day: Giant Drag – Kevin is Gay